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Mainstream, VOL L, No 50, December 1, 2012

December 10 (Human Rights Day) will be Observed as SC/ST Struggle Day

Monday 3 December 2012

by C.R. BAKSHI

Recently, two mass organisations, namely, the ‘National Joint Campaign Committee for Dalit Rights’ and ‘All India Adivasi Mahasabha’ held a joint conference at Nagpur and decided to launch a nationwide movement by SCs and STs, who constitute 25 per cent of the Indian popula-tion, over the demand for full implementation of the SC/ST Sub-Plans without diversion or mis-utilisation of the fund, on December 10, 2012, the day which was declared by the United Nations in 1948 as the international Human Rights Day and is being observed as such throughout the world since 1950.

The objective of observing this Day is to fight against all sorts of racial and ethnic discriminations, to improve the condition of women and vulnerable minorities, to end discrimination based on religion or belief, against the exclusion of those perceived as outcaste and marginalisation of many indigenous people and such other areas of specific concern for human rights.

In India, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes constitute 16.2 and 8.32 per cent of the total population. These two toiling communities, vastly spread over in almost all States of the country, are the historically disadvantaged, depressed and deprived sections of our population. The two all India organisations, as named above, are going to focus, on December 10, on Dalit Rights and Tribal Rights by organising dharnas and demonstrations with submission of memorandums to the Prime Minister through District Magistrates/Commissioners. They will particularly stress on the demand for implemen-tation of the SC/ST Sub-Plans introduced since the 1970s along with the general Five-Year Plans of the Planning Commission. It was the then Prime Minister during the 1970s who noted that the flow of funds in the general planning paradigm was not helping the Dalits and Adivasis, and hence it was decided to ensure committed flow of funds to the SCs and STs in proportion to their population to enable them to overcome their developmental gaps with the rest of the Indian population. Thus came the Sub-Plans.

The concept of the Tribal Sub-Plan was first evolved for 21 States and 2 Union Territories during 1974-75. The Planning Commission started making yearly allocation of special funds to ST Sub-Plans for implementation of different schemes of development of tribal people including primitive tribal groups (PTGs) for centrally sponsored schemes of development under Article 275 (1) of the Constitution, for Girls/Boys hostels, Ashram Schools in the TSP areas, Vocational Training Schools, Coaching for ST students, Post-Metric Scholarship, National Overseas Scholarship Schemes for STs, Tribal Research Institutes etc.

Similarly, the SC Sub-Plan allocation of funds was started in 1979 in which Special Central Assistance (SCA) to the Scheduled Cast Sub-Plan for their economic empowerment was targeted. For social empowerment and integrated area development, the Centrally sponsored schemes included self-employment schemes for rehabilitation of manual scavengers, hostels for SC girls and SC boys, free coaching for SC and OBC students, upgradation of Metric SC students, Post-Metric Scholarship for SCs, Dr B. R. Ambedkar Foundation, Implementation of protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 and SC and ST (Prevention) of Atrocities Act 1989, Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana etc. State governments also started allocation of funds for both the Sub-Plans to fall in line with the Central Government.

But as the records show, all the allocations of Sub-Plan funds fell short of the share for SCs and STs at much less percentage of their population compared to total population. As an example, the Budget Plan outlay for the Tribal
Sub-Plan of 2010-11 was 3.16 per cent only. In 2011-12, it was marginally increased to 5.11 per cent, that too was less than 8.32 per cent of their population. This is the continuing to happen for the SC Sub-Plan also. This is common phenomena in all the States, and as the ‘National Tribal Policy’ noted, ‘A situation is thus developing where the STs view the state as their exploiter and enemy, and the preachers of violent action as their protector and friend. Tribal people tend to support these violent movements as they feel that it would help them to get their rights and protect them from exploitation and redress their grievances.”

D. Raja, the National Secretary of CPI, in his note on ‘Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan, has stated: “Further, there is often no concretisation of the precise scheme, the precise outlay and the exact location where it is implemented for SCs/STs. In such a nebulous state no Social Audit by the SCs/STs, and by those who are working for them is possible. This provides a cover for non-utilisation, mis-utilisation and diversion at will of funds for SCs/STs. A blatant instance of this came to light in the diversion of large amounts in Delhi to the Commonwealth Games infrastructure of which the wrongful diversion of Rs 678.91 crores was admitted by the Home Minister in Rajya Sabha on 30.08.2010. It is also clear and was admitted in a weak defense of such diversion that what happened in Delhi is not an isolated instance but is happening in every Sate. What was advanced as a weak defence is in fact a serious indictment of what is happening in every State and the Centre.”

The analysis of the implementation of the Tribal Sub-Plan in some tribal dominated States indicates that the State governments have not allocated to the ST population proportionate funds during these plan periods. In other previous Five-Year-Plan periods also the same trend is seen. Even these less allocated TSP outlays have not been utilised fully in the States. The tribal dominated States of Chhattisgarh and Odisha have utilised their TSP funds to the extent of 65 to 70 per cent only.

In Andhra Pradesh, The Hindu on May 1, 2012 reported that “The diversion of SC, ST Sub-Plan funds to the tune of Rs. 1000 crores caused non-utilisation of the fund for the welfare of SCs and STs in last three years. It was now declared in government meeting under pressure of popular movement that the fund utilisation schemes for 2012-12 of Rs 1400 crores for SCs and STs and Rs 450 crores for STs as allocated, would be prepared by officials within a week-for education and allied field to improve academic standards and infrastructure in SC/ST educational institutes and hostels.” A mention must be made here that this declaration came only after the SCs and STs in the State took recourse to the path of agitation for implementation of SC/ST Sub-Plans since March 2012.

Recommendations on Tribal Sub-Plan by Committee of Governors

LONG ago, The Committee of Governors, constituted by the then President of India, K.R. Narayanan, to look into certain aspects concerning the welfare and rights of the SCs/STs, had recommended the following:-

1. The Social Welfare Departments and the Tribal Welfare Departments in the States should be designated as Nodal Departments on the lines of the Maharashtra Model. These departments at the Central level and in the States should be made exclusively responsible and accountable for the implementation of the SC Sub-Plan and the Tribal Sub-Plan. A single-line administration system should be introduced by bringing all the development programmes meant for the SCs and STs into single channels of administration at the National, State and District level.

2. The State-level Nodal Department so formed should be entrusted with the responsibility to take all policy decisions regarding adminis-tration of development programmes including budgeting of funds, making and releasing of allocations for development schemes, and power to review, monitor and supervise the implementation of all the programmes for the SCs and STs. At the field level also the District offices of these department should have the overall responsibility for monitoring the progress of work.

3. The SCSP/TSP components of the Central and State Ministries/Departments should be pooled together and the fund allotted should be given to the Social Welfare Department/Tribal Welfare Department for better utilisa-tion through single channel administration.

4. The allocation under the SCSP/TSP should be based on population percentage. However, wherever necessary and for specific programmes, more funds should be made available.

5. Approval of projects and schemes should be done at the State level to avoid delay in receiving funds. Full autonomy should be given to the State governments to take up scheme for the welfare of these categories.

6. Action should be taken against those offices who are responsible for not make adequate provisions under the SCSP/TSP or who allow such funds to lapse.
7. Fund under the SCSP, TSP and Special Central Assistance (SCA) should be made non-divertible and non-lapsable.

All these years most of the above high level recommendations, remained on paper only. Therefore, the need of the hour is to move into struggles for implementation of SC/ST Sub-Plans in letter and spirit.

In his note, D. Raja stated: “The Plan expenditure for SCs and STs in year 2012-13 budget is well over 30 thousand crores. But the actual expenses on the setting up of such dedicated SC/ST Sub-Plans will be less than a fraction of this amount.”
It is therefore highly necessary that we plunge into struggles to see that the implementation process becomes foolproof.

CPI on SC/ST Sub-Plans

THE Political Resolution of the CPI, adopted by the 21st Congress at Patna (from March 27 to 31, 2012), says under the sub-head ‘Dalits and Adivasis’: “The pursuance of neo-liberalism is in effect reversing the policy of reservation and handing over the neglected and discriminated sections of society to the cruel hands of private capital”. Again, “Sub-Plans for Dalits and Adivasis have been formulated at different level of governance but he implementation has been hazardous and in some cases the state governments have diverted funds for such plans to some other projects. CPI should be vigilant in getting such Sub-Plans with adequate fund for proper formulation and implementation. The Party at the grassroots must also take up result-oriented struggles for making all benefits available to the Dalits and Adivasis that are announced for them.”

With the decision by the Dalit Rights Campaign Committee and All India Adivasi Mahasabha to move into struggle by mobilising Dalits and Adivasis on December 10, 2012 at the District/State centres for implementation of SC/ST Sub-Plans in letter and spirit, the CPI and other Left democratic forces are naturally expected to stand in solidarity with them for the success of their struggle.

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